The stoic idea that will make you unstoppable
– So pretend you’re stuck in traffic. You’re super frustrated, you’re gripping the wheel tight. You can’t believe that you’re late for work and it’s your first day and you just landed your dream job and it’s bumper-to-bumper traffic and you can’t do anything about it. How does that make you feel? Probably pretty frustrated, right?
Why though? Okay, new scenario. Imagine you’re walking down the street, you’re having a great time, you say hi to the lovely couple and they say hi right back at you.
There’s a Catholic priest walking a little Chihuahua and you say, “Good evening, Father,” and he says, “Good evening, my son,” and it felt really good, you’re like, “All right, there’s a cool cast of characters here,” and then you wave at the third and final guy and he’s like, “(bleep) you man, stay away from me.” Unless he was the king of dry humor, that would probably hurt a little bit.
But why would that bother you? Now, these might sound like stupid questions, why would it bother me? “Obviously it would bother me, like, being stuck in traffic 10 minutes late to work when I just landed my dream job, it’s my first day and there’s a situation completely out of my control, it’s just so indicative of my life, nothing ever goes my way.” Or, “Obviously I’d be mad if someone said (bleep) you, that’s insulting. I’m just trying to lighten the mood and this person spits right back in my face.
” But there’s a problem.
Being angry and rattled over situations completely out of your control often leaks into the rest of the day, like you get frustrated over a situation, it doesn’t just last the duration of that situation, you harbor that negativity and it leaks into your relationships, into your career, into your family life. Maybe you’re stuck in traffic on your first day at work and you finally get into the office but you’re rattled and you’re pissed off and you’re flustered and you have a horrible day at work.
You make an awful first impression, a far worse impression than just being late for work. So there’s almost no utility to being rattled about situations outside of your control.
So now you’re thinking, “Okay, Joey’s just gonna give me a guide now about why negative emotions are bad and I shouldn’t be so affected about negative situations and I should just stay positive and stay productive.” Yeah, kinda. But it’s deeper than that. I’m about to introduce you to a concept that has served me extremely well throughout my life and it’s a concept that I adopted from stoicism. And if you adopt this mindset fully, you will not only be more resilient to the chaos of life, but the chaos will actually make you stronger, to the point where you might actually prefer a little bit of chaos so that you can get stronger.
All right, here’s the secret.
It’s so simple, it’s almost insulting. The mindset is radical acceptance. Now let’s backtrack a bit. Let’s go back to why you might’ve been frustrated about that guy saying fuck you or being stuck in traffic.
I think it’s because there is a fundamental thing going on here. You have a fundamental rejection of reality as it is. You lived your life with a sort of expectation of how reality actually is or should be and you’ve been living in this reality and something came along and shit all over it. And that thing that shit all over it is actual reality. And that’s sort of the key, life is shitty, it produces shit.
But the key is to be fully aware of the spectrum of shit that life can produce.
All the way from just a little bit poopy to the ultimate mega dump, which is probably something like you and everyone you know and love dying and then the world ending or something like that. But actually, the mega-mega dump would be everyone you know and love dies and the world dies, but you’re still somehow alive to watch it all happen and then you die. Meditating on and fully embracing and accepting life as it is, your own mortality, the fact that you’re going to die one day, the fact that everyone you know and love is going to die one day. This sounds super depressing for me to say and it sounds super depressing to think about and you might think, “This is a bit of a mood killer, I don’t want really wanna watch this video,” but this is what the ancient stoic philosophers did, like Seneca, Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, and it actually helped keep them grounded, focused on the bigger picture so that they could live a more fulfilling life in the present moment.
The point of all this isn’t to just spend all of your days thinking about what your tombstone will look like in 50 years, 30 years, tomorrow, but to focus on the things that are truly important, the things that are eternal, not the frivolous things that will fade away, the fact that you dented your car, the fact that you said something embarrassing to your crush, but to think about your soul, to think about the virtues you are fostering, the legacy that you’re leaving and the effect that you have on the people around you and the world that you’re a part of.
Certain things in life seem tragic, but also inevitable. We cannot avoid tragedy, we cannot avoid hardship, it is woven into the fabric of our reality. And any time we are completely floored by it, it’s often because we haven’t considered it, we didn’t consider that it was even a possibility, so when it happens, we don’t know what to do with that information. But if we live our life in acceptance of life as it is, the things that we can’t control and the things that we can, then it’ll stop feeling like we’re constantly drowning in the waves of life, splashing on the shore, we’ll become a surfer.
If we can reflect on and fully accept the highs and lows of life and just how high and just how low those can get, then we’ll stop being so surprised when bad things happen. And it’s not like you’re like, “Oh yeah, just my luck, bad things always happen to me, told you so,” it’s more like, “Okay, yeah, a bad thing happened to me. Something bad happened to me outside of my control. What is in my control? What can I gain from this and what can I do about it?
” That’s what an attitude of acceptance gives you. And this attitude isn’t just hypothetically useful, it’s also very practically useful. When I started adopting this mindset in my life as I started to get into more stoicism, I would get less rattled when my editing program would randomly crash in the middle of an edit.
Rather than Adobe Premier crashing for the 800th time in two days and me going, “Oh, what the are fuck, you kidding me? I just lost everything,” you go, “Yeah, right, hm, okay, this happened, I’m switching to Final Cut Pro.
” If a fight breaks out at the bar, you’re not gonna be like, “Oh, what’s goin’ on, oh oh,” and you join the outrage. You notice what’s going on, you land a key punch to the throat if you need to and you walk out of the bar. Pro gamer move, it’s like Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner, stone cold. Anyways, yeah, that’s pretty much all I got for this video, I’m not gonna tie a nice bow on this one. I don’t really feel like being super poetic, I’ll do that next video.
I’ll save the production value for next video. So I hope this was helpful for you, and let me tell you about a hobby I recently picked up involving stoicism.
Take it away future Joey. One of my favorite things to do as of late is to go on a very long, moody nighttime drive, preferably in the rain and dive into some of the most thought provoking ancient wisdom ever recorded. Right now, I’m diving into Letters From a Stoic, by Seneca.
And obviously I’m not reading a book while I’m driving, I’m listening to the audio book, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you’ll know that the best and most convenient way to listen to audio books is by using Audible, which is today’s video sponsor. For those of you who don’t know, Audible is the leading provider of spoken word entertainment all in one place. It has by far the largest selection of audio books on the entire internet. If the book exists, there’s a very high chance there’s an audio book version that you can find on Audible. And with an Audible membership, every single month they send you one credit, which you can spend on any audio book of your choice regardless of cost and you get to keep that book forever.
If you cancel your membership at any point, you still keep your entire library of audio books. And if you’ve been thinking about joining Audible and you’ve been kind of on the fence waiting for a deal, now’s your chance, because they just launched their holiday offer. So for the first three months of your membership, you get 60% off your membership, which means that for the first three months, it’s only $5.95 cents a month and if you factor in the fact that they give you one free book credit, that’s a really good deal. You get heavily discounted audio books, so it’s kind of a no brainer.
So if you wanna take advantage of that offer, all you have to do is click my link in the description below, go to audible.com/betterideas, or to make it really easy for you, just text “betterideas” to 500-500. So scoop up that holiday offer, join Audible, listen to some really enriching audio books, expand your mind, make yourself smarter, and as usual, have a great time. What’s up? It’s the third and final version of Joey here.
I forgot to film an… Actually, I didn’t forget to film an outro to the video, my camera died (laughs). If you liked this video, the one that I just edited and the one you just watched, consider hitting the like button because the like button actually does help me do better as a YouTuber.
It lets YouTube and the algorithm know that this was a decent video and it might’ve been helpful and then it just pumps my bald head into more people’s homepages, potentially helping them out. So it helps me out, helps everyone out, it’s just a win-win. If you’re lurking here and you haven’t subscribed yet, consider subscribing ’cause that also helps the whole operation out as well. I’m really excited about next video, I kind of hinted at a higher production value.
So yeah, that’s the only hint I’ll give, I don’t know what else to say other than stay tuned for next video.
Thank you so much for watching and we’ll catch you in the next video. (ambient music).
Read More: Seneca – How To Manage Your Time (Stoicism)